This is completely different to anything I've written before, so any and all feedback would be appreciated immensely.
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to SM, and not me. I don't own anything.
I still see her. Even now I see her.
Three years, and I see her around every corner, on every street, in every room.
She haunts me, and I am eternally grateful for that. For it means that she has not left me. Not entirely.
I wake up. My chest aches. A cold realisation sweeps over me as I realise I am still here.
For the past three years, waking up has actually hurt.
Despite this, I don't feel as bad as I did yesterday; the dreams didn't come last night.
I never know whether I prefer that or not. The dreams vary, sometimes they are just memories, flashbacks, and those dreams, while they are their own special brand of awful, keep me grounded. They are awful but they are nothing compared to the other dreams, the ones of that day, the day I couldn't save her.
The ironic thing is, Bella was always the one that was worried about me.
"Please be careful," Bella pleads with me as I make to leave the house.
I look at her, ravishing as always, even in the morning. Her doe-brown eyes are large, worry evident on her face. "Bella, we've been over this. I promise not to be a hero, I promise to not intentionally put myself in danger. You seem to forget that you're the danger magnet of the two of us."
And it's true. I had known Bella my whole life, and she was forever falling down, getting locked in closets and getting into various scrapes. She always insisted it wasn't her fault - that it was the fates, out to get her.
Somehow, I had never thought that the fates would be so cruel as to cause a fourteen year old girl to fall down the stairs, re-breaking her leg in two places just days after getting it out of a cast.
Bella insisted the fates were malicious.
I wake up. I had disagreed with her that day.
Now I wasn't so sure.
I get up, and begin my daily routine. I get up, I brush my teeth, I shower, I dress and I make my way to the kitchen.
I see her out the window. She stands out in the yard, hose in hand as she waters the garden. Sensing my eyes on her she glances up, meeting my gaze. She always knew when I was looking at her. Called it her sixth sense.
Her Edward sense.
And then she smiles. This one I call her Edward smile. It's soft and warm and home and seems to be reserved only for me.
A shout pulls my gaze, and when I look back, she's gone.
"You couldn't have chosen a less dangerous profession? You know office worker, little cubicle, predictability, monotony… None of this sounds appealing to you?" she's joking, but a serious tone lines her words as she tugs on the collar of my shirt.
I look at her dead in the eye. "Bella, you know for a fact I did no choose this. Fire-fighting chose me."
She nods sombrely, knowing the exact reason I became a fire-fighter. When I was 16 my godfather had died in a house fire, trapped in his kitchen as flames billowed around him. I had been with him in the house at the time, but somehow had managed to escape.
Carlisle had been a second father to me, and I honoured him every time I donned my suit.
I look up, pulled from my daydreaming by a phone call.
The ringing is incessant, and from the caller ID I know the person won't give up easily if I just ignore it.
With a sigh, I answer it.
"Edward," her voice is choked, full of emotion and is nearly enough to break me.
Somehow, I stay strong.
"Alice," I repeat, knowing she has more to say.
There is silence on the other end of the line and I know she is searching for the right thing to say. I want to tell her there is no right thing. No thing she could say that will ease my pain.
I hear her inhale, and know she has made a decision.
"Happy Birthday," she says, deciding on simple. I murmur a reply, not knowing what I am saying, and hang up.
There are no words.
"Besides," I say, waggling my eyebrows at her. "There are some benefits." I had come home one night not having changed out of my uniform and Bella had been very recipient.
She laughs, carefree and light, and I am warmed. "That reminds me," she says. "Bring home your suit tonight."
I raise an eyebrow at her sudden shift in demeanour. "Got something in mind?"
She winked at me as she handed me my lunch in a brown paper bag. "Let's just say I'm feeling a lot better." She had been sick for a while, putting quite the damper on our love life. I had been on the verge of driving her to the doctors myself at one point, but Bella was adamant it was just he flu. I still wasn't sure, but if she said she was feeling better who was I to question that?
"Now go," she said, "before you manage to wrangle the surprise I have for you tonight out of me."
I raised my brow, "Surprise?"
She laughed at my sudden reluctance to leave. "Go, you're late!"
Looking at my watch I realised I was late. "Crap, I have to go," I muttered before leaning in for one more kiss. "I love you, and I'll be home as soon as possible."
She looked up at me from between her lashes as she said, "I love you," and it took everything in me not to take her back to the bedroom right now, surprise be damned. Shaking my head, I opened the door and stepped out, telling myself 'Tonight.'
I was counting the minutes until I was with her again.
I wake up. My chest aches at how hopeful I had been, how happy and content with our lives. A sudden sweeping of rage fills me as I remember all that was taken away, and I punch the wall. I look up and she is looking at me, all deep soulful eyes and wavy brown hair and with one look, the anger leaves me and a small voice pulls me back.
I drop my head and walk out into the hall.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
It had been a routine day. A few false alarms here and there as well as some minor house fires usually caused by a house wife forgetting to turn of the oven or iron before leaving the house.
Only two more hours until I saw Bella, and my phone rang.
I smiled as I answered, even her name able to bring a smile to my lips. "Hello, love."
I could hear the smile in her voice at my greeting. "Hello, husband," my smile intensified. We had only been married 10 months and I still wasn't used to the greeting. I loved it.
"I just wanted to let you know I'm done at work and heading to the grocery store. You have a choice of lamb chops or chicken fajitas for dinner - which do you want?" I grinned at the choices, both of them being my favourites.
"Lamb chops, please. I take it the doctor's appointment went well?" She had finally relented and gone to see the doctor today.
"Better than well." Her tone of voice left me wondering what it was he told her, but I knew she wasn't going to tell me until I got home.
"Well, my shift ends in a couple of hours, I'll be home by 7."
"I'll have dinner waiting. And I have something special planned," I was reminded again of her surprise for the evening and tried to wheedle it out of her.
"You're not going to give me any hints?"
"Nope," she said, popping the last syllable. "Alright, love, I have to go. I'll see you in a bit."
"See you soon, sweet. I love you."
"I love you, too." I had hung up smiling.
It had been a routine day.
"Edward," a voice says, their tone indicating that it wasn't the first time I was being called. I look up.
"Emmett," I say, a genuine smile, albeit small, gracing my features. Emmett was one of my best friends, he was Bella's brother.
I hadn't been able to talk to him for months after.
They were twins.
Even now, the similarities between them made my heart ache, but I smiled as I looked at him.
"You look good, man. I take it Rose isn't like the others."
'The others' were Emmett's incredibly bad taste in women. He had gone through a phase of using the internet to find women - meaning they were usually of the mentally unstable variety, ending in nights spent tied to the bedpost as they stole his wallet.
He simply grins in response, and somewhere I acknowledge that I must be right, but the sight of his dimples distracts me. The hole in my chest widens, just a little.
Silence fills the room and his smile drops. "This weekend…" he starts, and I see the pain in his eyes, deeply reflected in mine. I can't talk about it.
Instead, I remember the last time Emmett and I talked about Bella. Really talked.
It had been that day.
We had been arguing about something. "Just remember, next time you get the urge to call me at four in the morning to come and pick you up from you're latest date with a crazy, and don't. Call Jasper."
"Jazz is too busy with his new baby. At least with you I'm not incurring the wrath of new mother Alice. That's fucking scary, bro." Emmett shuddered, remembering the last time Alice had gone off on him. Apparently Emmett hadn't realised that you aren't supposed to feed cookies to babies who had only just gotten their teeth.
"And you don't care that with me you're interrupting my time with Bella?"
"I guess. But dude. An angry Bella compared to an angry Alice is like comparing a declawed kitten to a ferocious mother lion protecting her cubs." I chuckled. He had a point.
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. I don't want to continue remembering that day. I know it's coming, as it has for the past three years, but I still hope it won't.
I just want to remember the good.
The alarm station went of, blaring it's warning into the evening.
Matt, the station leader had called out, "Jason, Emmett, Aiden and Edward, you're with me. Suit up, trucks are leaving in thirty seconds."
We had jumped up and rushed to the trucks, pulling on our jackets and helmets as we went. Matt had debriefed us on the way.
"Okay guys, this is not a small house fire. There have been several reports of a whole street being affected. People on the scene are thinking some kind of explosion, though we're not sure yet, so keep your eyes open and your wits about you. This is a bad one, boys."
Emmett and I had been in the back, preparing ourselves. We sped towards the fire when I started to recognise the route. We were getting close to my neighbourhood, to my house.
My house that I shared with Bella.
"Matt, what's the address?" I asked, the desperation in m voice clear. Emmett looked at me with concern but I ignored him, mentally pleading Matt to say somewhere far, far away from where I lived.
"Uh, Wilson Boulevard," he said, my heart stopping. "We're almost there."
"Edward," Emmett choked out, but I didn't hear anything else as we stopped and I surveyed the damage.
A raging fire spanning a least six houses, with mine right in the middle of it.
I was frozen, unable to breathe.
"No!" I wake up with a shout.
Rubbing my eyes I look at the clock, and remember her. She would wake me up in the middle of the night, sometimes to make love, sometimes to just talk. Either way, I was content.
I drop my head into my hands.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
I haven't seen her for a few hours. I can't even feel her presence. I suppose she's with her parents right now.
I get up, I know I won't be able to sleep again. The closer it gets to Friday, the worse I sleep. I know over the next two days, I will get very little sleep, as it seems I am doomed to relive three years ago through my dreams.
I both hate and love my curse.
I walk to the kitchen, reaching for coffee. Turning on the machine, I close my eyes, and am immediately transported.
Not her, I thought as I made to race for the house.
A pair of strong arms held me back. "Edward, you have to stop," it was Emmett, though I couldn't believe he was any calmer than I was.
"Emmett, she's in there, man, you have to let me go. Let me go!" I struggled against him futilely, desperate to get to her. I needed her. She could not leave me.
"They're doing all they can," he answered, and for the first time I noticed the other fire trucks on the scene, and the sprays of water directed to the flames. But they were seemingly doing nothing, having no effect on the flames licking the houses.
I stopped my struggling, falling limp. I saw a man entering my home, checking for any people. I wanted to yell to him. Get her. Get Bella. She's in there. She has to be alright. She can't not be alright. Get her. Please.
I was on my knees on the road. There were already a few people outside, sooty but seemingly fine. I couldn't see Bella though. The guy from inside had returned yet either.
Oh, God. Oh, God. Where was she?
Emmett had joined in with the hoses, directing a stream directly onto my house. I couldn't help. I couldn't do anything.
Where was she?
Finally, I saw a figure in the doorway. I got up, rushing over. I almost died when I saw her. She was lying limp in his arms. I reached them, pulling her out of his arms.
"I've got her," I managed to croak out through my tears. She was completely still. I lay her on the pavement, feeling for a pulse. She seemingly wasn't breathing. Oh, God. I desperately searched for a pulse, a little beating to reassure me that she was alive. I finally found one, thready and intermittent, but it was there. A faint pulsing, reminding me that we she wasn't yet gone from me.
The coffee machine beeps and I am stopped from reliving the worst, for now.
I know it's coming.
I manage to stave off the memories all day, a day spent alone and zombie-like as I go through the motions of living. I eat, barely, forcing down food that is tasteless and textureless in an effort not to starve.
Usually I'm better than this, I can pretend to be happy, but today, this weekend, that is not the case.
I manage to keep my mind occupied until dusk, when the sun slants in through the walls of glass.
Bella leans into me for a kiss, her hair almost red with the sun glancing off of it. Warily, I look out the walls, windows floor to ceiling and look back at her.
"I don't think we fully thought out the living in a glass house." Bella had designed the house, she was an architect with a big firm in the city and had taken it upon herself to design us a masterpiece.
And a masterpiece it was, all angles and clean lines.
There was enough foliage to mask anything happening inside, but I wasn't sure there weren't people hiding in the bushes to watch us.
"No-one's going to see, Edward." She had sighed, before a grin graced her lips. She started to walk backwards, removing her clothing as she left me standing in the hallway. She fell back on the bed, undressed and looked up at me through her lashes. "Especially if you're too scared to do anything about this predicament I've found myself in."
I laughed and lunged at her, "I'll show you who's scared."
Later, when we had sated our needs for the time being - I could never get enough of her - I had asked her to marry me.
A few short months later, she was my wife.
And just over a year after that, she was gone.
I feel wetness on my cheeks and realise I am crying. I know what will come in the dreams tonight, and while I know it will hurt, I almost relish the pain. I should have been there to save her. I was a fire-fighter for fucks sake.
I should have saved her.
I settled Bella on the pavement in front of me, my eyes taking her in hungrily assessing her injuries.
I looked her over. Whereas I had thought she wasn't breathing before, I could see now that there was a very slight rise and fall of her chest. There seemed to be a pretty severe burn on her left arm and leg, though I wouldn't know the degree until the ambulances arrived.
Why weren't they here yet? I had her, in my arms, in need to medical attention and there wasn't any. I pulled her to my chest, cradling her in my arms until they arrived. My tears leaked onto her face as I searched it for any sign of consciousness. She lay completely still, her face unmoving.
She had a smear of ash on her forehead and nose, which I wiped and I continued to pray for her to wake up. Please, please let her be alright. I don't know what I'll do without her.
I decided to tell her this. She was not allowed to leave me. I simply forbade it. "Don't you dare leave me, Bells. I can't do this without you. You just hold on until we can get you some help, and then the doctors will fix you up and you'll be just fine." I didn't know if she could hear me, but I would keep talking as long as there was the slightest chance.
But she was cold in my arms. Too cold. But before I was able to get her a blanket, I heard the sirens approaching. An ambulance pulled up in front of us, the back doors opening and a paramedic jumping out with a stretcher. He came up to me.
"Sir, we need to take her now." I nodded numbly, allowing him to take her and put her on the stretcher. I made to follow in the back, oblivious to surrounding noises and chaos. I just needed to be with her. When the paramedic tried to stop me though, I saw red.
"She's my fucking wife, okay?" There was no room for argument as I forced my way in. He shut the doors behind us and set her up with wires and tubes as we made our way to the hospital. I held her hand, helpless.
I wake with a start.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
I sigh and drag myself out of bed, glad for the silence. I need this, I realise. Need to relive the worst day of my life through my dreams and memories, because if I don't, I'm afraid I will forget.
I can't forget. I don't want to.
I don't want to forget the way she folded hr feet under herself on the couch, to keep her feet warm.
She had the feet of an eighty year old man, she used to say.
I don't want to forget the precise order in which she made a cup of tea, bag first, then sugar, then hot water. Milk came last.
I don't want to forget lazy Sunday mornings with the paper in bed and her attempts at doing the crossword, by herself, but ultimately failing and either turning to me or the internet for help.
I don't want to forget the way just the tip of her tongue would peek out of the corner of her mouth as she concentrated, whether it be on work or making cupcakes.
She made the best cupcakes.
I don't want to forget the way she looked as she walked towards me down the aisle, clad in off-white (there was no way she was going to be wearing white), her cheeks rosy, her hair a pile atop her head and face just lit up as she approached. I don't want to forget what she said to me seconds later, professing her love and tying herself to me, supposedly forever.
I should have known that forever didn't exist.
I sat numbly by her side, the white of the hospital walls too bright and the smell sickeningly medicinal. Lysol and the sickly sweet smell of morphine. I didn't want to be there. I wanted more than anything for it to be the morning and to whisk Bella away somewhere, protect her with everything I had.
But it was too late.
She lay on the bed, face sallow and arms covered in bandages. With her hair spread all over the pillow, her face serene, she looked almost as if she were sleeping.
If only she would wake up.
A gasp in the doorway. I didn't need to turn around to know who it was. Alice, gripping Jaspers hand so hard that her knuckles were white, stood at the doorway, her other hand at her mouth.
I couldn't look at their hands.
My own were gripping Bella's, desperate for even that much contact. I was trying to give her my strength, as if it worked that way.
I sensed rather than saw Alice take a few tentative steps forward.
"What have they said," she asked quietly, as if not to disturb the hush in the room.
I yearned for it to be broken, for Bella to wake up and make a wisecrack about being clumsy, about all of us taking time off work to come see her and telling us to get our butts back to the grind.
I wanted to hear her laugh, see her smile, even hear her yelling at me if it meant that she wasn't asleep any more.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her take a seat, Jasper moving behind her to rub her shoulders.
I averted my eyes, staring only at my angel's face.
Her unearthly pale face.
"They haven't given me a full report. She's got some second degree burns though, but they should heal." My voice started to crack as I said the next part, the words stopping in my throat. I felt like I was choking, spitting up the words I wished so desperately to not be true.
"But she needs to wake up soon. The longer she's… like this…" I trailed off, knowing they understood.
A knock on the door. I look up to see the doctor there, but am immediately disheartened at the sombre look on his face.
I get up and follow him outside, only separating my fingertips from Bella's at the last possible second.
I stare blankly at the doctor as he begins to talk.
I don't even remember his name.
"Mr. Cullen… Did you know that your wife is pregnant?"
I laugh darkly. He's joking, right?
But his face tells me he's not, and my mind goes strangely blank.
"Pregnant?" I ask, the only word running through my thoughts.
My hands slips off the edge of the kitchen table and I am startled out of the memory. I gasp sharply, needing to feel the cool air filling my lungs. It's too hot, too hot.
And that's it. The culmination of the entire ordeal.
Four months, pregnant, he had told me. She hadn't been showing, I had thought that there weren't any signs.
But she had been sick. For weeks. We had both thought it was bad flu.
But then she had a doctors appointment.
She had been going to tell me that night. I try to draw breath into my lungs but the tears start to come as I think about the look that would have been on her face as she told me that she was carrying me child.
She would have been elated, a warm glow filling her and shining outwards.
I lament for the moments I missed, the chances we wouldn't get again.
I can't breathe.
I can't breathe.
She is standing at the stove, dancing in a way that can only be described as spastic.
She likes to refer to herself as rhythmically challenged. That doesn't stop her from dancing to whatever song is running through her head at the time.
She hums as she dances, a nonsensical tune that makes me smile at her randomness.
She turns and I am surprised to see her belly is large and round, protruding out from underneath her small tank top. One hand goes to the swell and she smiles at me, glowing with the life growing inside of her.
She is thriving.
She starts to walk toward me, but a sharp knock at the door makes her head snap towards it, and the moment is lost.
I wake up.
This was not a regular memory. This was a dream.
A dream that never did nor never would come true.
A sharp knock again at the door, and I reluctantly drag myself towards the source.
The door opens to reveal the small form of one Alice Whitlock.
She stands there, pale face and dark hair, dissimilar in all aspects of her appearance to my wife, but the certain way in which she wrings her hands is something she picked up from Bella and I draw a sharp breath.
There need be no words. A look at her face tells me that it is time.
I go through the motions. I shower, I brush my teeth, I get dressed, I tie my shoes, all with scarcely a thought a focused on the action at hand.
All my thoughts are focused on what is coming next.
Slowly, the small hole in my chest, present every day since that day, deepens. Ever so slightly, it widens and takes up more room until I can't breathe.
Today is the day.
Friday, June 25th. The date of my child's birth. And my wife's death.
I try not to remember this time three years ago, and it's not difficult. I shut down, unable to eat, speak, breathe. I didn't know how to exist in a world that didn't include my wife, where the love of my life didn't exist.
But then there was the child. A small, wrinkly, ugly little thing that was all the more perfect for that. A shock of curly brown hair atop her head, and deep set, impossibly large eyes. Brown eyes. Her mother's eyes.
I step outside into the slightly cold, damp morning air and am rushed at by a small warm body, smelling like freesias and strawberries. I bend down and gather her in my arms, inhaling deeply. When she pulls back, I am drawn into her eyes, Bella's eyes reincarnate, and I fall in, hooked on my new drug of choice.
Firday's child is loving and giving, and it is only because of this sweet little girl that I am even still standing here. She loves me unconditionally, nursing me back to life until I laugh as she does.
There will never be another such as Bella. She will always have my heart, completely and totally. But Olivia had given me new heart, and I had more room to fill with love for this baby girl who taught me how to laugh again.
And I would protect her with my life.
I hold her hand as we stand over the marker, simple words, "Beloved mother, friend, sister and wife." We gather here, standing sometimes in silence, sometimes with tears, and more often with each passing year with words; words of hope, of amusement with times past, of regret for times missed.
I am still the most silent, waiting for a time when it will hurt less to speak about these things, but as I catch a flash of brown out of the corner of my eye, and turn to see Bella standing at the edge of the cemetery I feel warm.
Because that time will surely come. And I wont have to forget Bella to achieve it.
When we've had our fill, when there have been enough tears and enough words, I will pick my daughter up in my arms and take her back home, sure of a certain angel watching over us.